How To Improve Histology Equipment

I’ve worked in a lab long enough to know that many of the histology equipment pieces (microtome, cryostat, slide stainers) are out of date.  I feel these should be revamped or completely re-designed.  The current designs looks to me like an engineer(s) made these instruments without consulting a single histologist.  That’s not terribly uncommon from a laboratory standpoint.  This may be due to the nature of true medical staff, especially for histology and pathology.  People who prefer to be around dead tissues, dissecting and analyzing it are a breed apart from the normal person, right?  Well even if there not, most of us are not mechanically inclined to fix and repair any equipment, much less design it.  I would like to change that fact to read, most of us are not mechanically inclined to fix or design laboratory equipment.

I have some ideas that could change the way histologists use current equipment.  I would like to get your help in designing and testing some of my theories.  Will you help me? Okay, I assume everyone says yes.

Below is a picture of the most offensive piece of histology equipment in the field, the cryostat.  The cryostat, cryo meaning cold, cuts frozen tissues, often unfixed, but not necessarily, most often,  that cannot be paraffin processed.  Take a look at it.

Leica Cryostat
Leica Cryostat

It’s essentially a microtome sitting inside a freezer.  Only this microtome sits at a 45 degree angle sloped towards the back (see picture below).

45 degree slope
45 degree slope

While the function of the machine is well intended, the usability of it is poor.  Sitting down to use this machine, you have to lean over and then into the chamber.  We all know what carpal tunnel is for repetitive movements especially workers who sit at a computer all day, it’s brutal.  This machine is just as harmful to the joints (articular cartilage= red, as any other carpal tunnel creating object.  After 8 hours of doing this, my back and neck hurt, the hands are so cold and dry, they don’t work well anymore.  This thing does not promote good posture for anyone but does put more histology workers out on disability with bad backs.  All I can say is “Great Design”.

Obviously I have my own ideas about this and as you can see, one of them is to make the microtome on a level surface instead of a 45 degree slope.

Internal view of the Cryostat
Internal view of the Cryostat

Now the question to all of you “engineers & lab staff”, can you think of a better design than this one, if so, how would you design it?


After this has been discussed and hashed out, I will continue this post with more pieces of histology equipment that I think could use redesigning.


Just to let you know,  I am allowing comments on this page as long as they relate to this subject and contain the words “histology services” anywhere in your post.  All other comments will be sent to spam and or deleted.

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